Freshwater update: What are the key issues + farmer conference call

We are now into the third week of the government’s consultation on the Essential Freshwater proposals, which after requests to the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), has been extended to accept submissions until 31 October. 

image of ferns next to stream

The sheep and beef sector supports the goal of having healthy freshwater and we all have a role to play in achieving that. We are supportive of clear environmental bottom lines and frameworks that empower farmers and communities to work together to achieve these.  However, the devil is in the detail and we have significant concerns about the potential impacts of some of what has been proposed. 

We have been hearing from farmers that they want a template submission to use when providing feedback to MfE, and we are working on this and will be providing this to farmers in the coming week.

The proposals will have implications for all farmers, but most of the modelling indicates that low emissions farmers, particularly sheep and beef farmers and other low input farming systems who have already cut their emissions, will bear the majority of the burden for at least the next 5–10 years. This is through a combination of:

  • grandparenting provisions that will lock in low emissions farms at current levels of stock or inputs, and prevent land use change, and   
  • the policies fail to recognise the significant environmental gains already made by sheep and beef farmer and farms; and   
  • will significantly increase compliance costs that our farmers won’t be able to afford because they can’t adjust their farming systems due to the grandparenting provisions.
  • So far, the conversation has been dominated by in-stream limits, such as nitrogen, and fencing.  However, the issues that will hurt sheep and beef farmers are different to these and it is really important that we make our voices heard to ensure these issues are considered as well. We are also seeking to provide solutions on these issues and will be providing examples of these in our template submission.  

Based on the feedback we are hearing we have also produced a new short summary of the key issues for sheep and beef farmers from the freshwater proposals. It includes information on what we have been doing, and advice on what you can do:

  • We strongly encourage you to attend a Ministry for the Environment (MfE) consultation meeting and raise concerns, particularly about grandparenting.    
  • Please also attend a B+LNZ Environmental Roadshow event where we will take you through the MfE proposals in more detail, as the MfE roadshows have been light on specifics about the freshwater proposals, but it is still important you attend to raise our sector’s concerns and to demonstrate how important this is.    
  • Please make a submission and encourage others to as well. We will be sending out a template submission in the next week with advice on exactly what to say.   
  • Please get in touch with your local MP and Mayor and raise your concerns. 

National conference call

We are hosting a conference call and webinar on Thursday 3 October from 7–8:30pm for farmers who can’t make one of the MfE consultation meetings or a B+LNZ Environmental Roadshow event.

B+LNZ’s CEO Sam McIvor and our Environment Policy Lead Corina Jordan will take you through the government’s freshwater proposals and what they will mean for your farm. You can either join online or by phone, and details for this call are below. 

Join online through Skype

This is an online meeting for Skype for Business, the professional meetings and communications app formerly known as Lync.

Join by phone

  • +6442808095 (Dial-in Number)                    
  • +64800445048 (Dial-in Number)                     

Conference ID: 954959398

For those dialing into the call, a copy of the PowerPoint being referred to is available at: 

We have also produced a short summary of the key issues for sheep and beef farmers from the freshwater proposals. It includes information on what we have been doing, and advice on what you can do.

Have your say

This consultation process from the Ministry for the Environment is hugely important, and the more feedback from farmers that the government receives, then the more able we will be to help shape sensible policies that meet the environmental objectives but are also practical and workable.